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Corruption and lawlessness

Saqib Zia
History bears testimony to the fact that no country or a state can progress if its rulers are corrupt. To attain sustainable development goals, fair distribution of resources, honesty and integrity are the main factors that play vital role in laying a solid foundation for achieving the lofty goals.
The history is that developed countries including America, European and other Asian countries evolved and adopted a comprehensive policy and a particular code of conduct to achieve their national goals. Besides adopting short and long-term policy measures all these nations remained stick to “Honesty is the best policy”, which ultimately paved a way for them to establish reasonably balanced societies, wherein corruption, dishonesty, fraud, misuse of authority and plundering, deceit and deception are deemed as biggest and unpardonable crimes.
And that is the reason that these countries have been able to lay a solid and strong foundation for sustainable development and outstanding future. It is, in fact, this reasonably fair and just system free of the menace of corruption, nepotism and dishonesty that these advanced countries achieved a special status among the comity of nations.
To the contrary Muslim countries, despite having natural resources in abundance, lag far behind almost in every field of life. The main reason of Muslim states’ failures is the lack of justice and honesty within their respective social structures. Widespread corruption, nepotism, social inequalities and injustice have unfortunately become a new norm in Muslim societies and Pakistan is no exception.
The insidious plague (corruption), as a matter of fact, has marred the socio economic development of Pakistan since last several decades. Ruling elite have been facing graft charges of serious nature. Recently, the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the apex court for being involved in “massive corruption and money laundering”. In order to hide his corruption Sharif spoke 100 lies to hide his one lie after Panama scandal came to the fore. Not to talk of politicians’, bureaucrats, generals and even judges were found guilty of corruption.
Other than Panama scandal 70-year long history of Pakistan is awash with stories of fraud and gross abuse of authority by those who have been at the helm of affairs in the country but due to lack of proper accountability system nobody, no matter how much corruption he/she has committed, has ever been made accountable. The criminal justice system of the country is so flawed and faulty that crime is committed by one and the punishment is given to other. Ironically, the judicial system of Pakistan has been held hostage by privileged elite class, in such a situation it is quite difficult for a common man to get justice.
Political interference is yet another biggest hurdle in delivering justice. Owing to political influence investigating agencies are reluctant to carry out thorough investigations, and mostly the accountability bodies are rendered powerless because they need government approval before starting a probe.
To root out this insidious menace of corruption from the country there is a dire need to have a strong system of accountability in place to rid the nation of corrupt mafia and the high-level political and bureaucratic corruption. As long as the threat of institutional corruption is there it would remain a distant dream for Pakistan to achieve sustainable development goals. As it is an established fact that in lower developed countries widespread structural corruption remains to be the greatest hurdle in the socio-economic progress and prosperity.
The height of ignorance is that in under developed countries like Pakistan corrupt politicians are enjoying sort of indemnity. While politicians and the elite community of the country brazenly evade millions in taxes, a sizeable number of Pakistanis are living below poverty line. Panama scandal, in which, Pakistan’s elite class was badly exposed of having stashed millions in offshore companies speaks volumes about lawlessness and ruling elite’s apathy towards common man and the country. This very particular class in Pakistan has been acting above law, they were never held accountable for their wrongs. Breaking laws, evading taxes, misusing authority and making mockery of state laws has become a routine exercise for them.
Civil Society particularly the journalist fraternity has always been at the forefront to create awareness amongst masses besides raising their voice against rampant corruption, rights abuses, injustices and unjust system in the country. But it is matter of serious concern that people associated with journalism are not safe here as there is no law in Pakistan that guarantees their safety. As for as democratic rights of the people are concerned the ruling elite has miserably failed to set any precedent of good governance and fair play. Those who fight for the supremacy of rule of law are dealt with use of excessive or unnecessary force, one such example of lawlessness is the Model Town tragedy where at least eleven PAT workers were killed and over 100 people injured. Instead of bringing perpetrators to justice court ordered the release of all accused persons involved in the incident.
It is high time Pakistan took robust measures to rid the nation from these social evils and illegal practices of individual and institution corruption to put the country back on the track of peace, progress and prosperity. To retrieve and regain past glory it is time to follow the guidelines of founding father Quad-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. “We should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find free play”, the founding father said.

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